Seven and a half years ago, I broke my wrist. I slipped on a wet floor. It was the village hall, someone had spilt beer and I was wearing the kind of shoes that slip. As I slipped, I instinctively put my hand out to save myself, and all my weight fell onto one hand. ‘Snap!’
It was a bad and very painful break. It had to be pinned back together with 2 metal rods (which were eventually removed). It was my right hand and I am right-handed.
I was three things at the time: a piano teacher, a bookkeeper for our business and a housewife with 2 young children. I couldn’t do much for weeks. My husband had to work less and pay other people more. It cost us money in all sorts of ways and my wrist still gives me trouble on occasion now.
So … whose fault was it? Who should I sue?
The shoes were clearly dangerous, the person drinking on the dance floor was clearly irresponsible, the village hall floor was clearly too well-polished, I clearly shouldn’t have been served so many drinks that I couldn’t even walk safely. It was my sister’s 30th birthday and I was tidying up for her.
‘Someone must be to blame when things go wrong, when things don’t turn out the way I want them to, when life throws up unexpected things that cost us money, ‘ I wail…
Well, of course, it was my own stupid bloody clumsy fault combined with a bit of bad luck.
When I was staying in hospital after the operation on my wrist, there was an old woman in my bay who was confused and uncommunicative. She had a lot of trouble moving and had to be helped with everything. She was at one end of the room, with no one to talk to. I think she was called Ivy.
In the night, Ivy tried to get out of bed to go to the toilet and peed on the floor. I feared for her slipping in her puddle and buzzed for help.
The next day tea was brought to us all and Ivy’s was left on her table, too far away from her for her to reach. She sat, looking down, seemingly unaware. The other women and I decided that Ivy might be less confused if she drank more, so, although I’d had a general anaesthetic, I got up and went to push her table closer to her and encourage her to drink.
Suddenly a voice shouted from the corridor, ‘Stop! You’re not supposed to do that! If you slip, you’re not insured!’
? ? ? ! ! !
Let’s not be like this. Let’s take responsibility for our own actions while we’re able.
And let’s continue to help other people – even if there are small risks attached.
The sooner we stop acting as if there are forces turning a big crank handle and dishing out lives, luck and compensation money the better. We put genuine cases of need and unfairness into disrepute with this culture of blame.